Fewer than one in 100 children who test positive for COVID-19 end up dying, a Europe-wide study has shown. A small but significant percentage do develop severe illness, it found.
Study finds child deaths from coronavirus is “very low”
A team of researchers led by experts in Britain, Austria and Spain looked at the outcomes of nearly 600 children under 18 infected with the novel coronavirus and found that only a quarter had pre-existing medical conditions.
This is in sharp contrast to adults, among whom the vast majority of patients have underlying health problems.
The team found that more than 60 per cent of COVID-19 positive children required hospital treatment and that eight per cent needed intensive care. Of the 582 children studied, just four died. On the other hand, more than 90 children, or 16 per cent, showed no symptoms at all.
The most common symptom among children in the study was fever. | Image source: iStock
Marc Tebruegge, from University College London’s Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, says that while the results shouldn’t be extrapolated for the general population, they were nevertheless reassuring.
“The case fatality cohort was very low and it is likely to be substantially lower still, given many children with mild disease would not have been brought to medical attention and therefore not included in this study,” he says.
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“Overall, the vast majority of children and young people experience only mild disease,” adds Tebruegge, lead author of the study published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal.
“Nevertheless a notable number of children do develop severe disease and require intensive care support, and this should be accounted for when planning and prioritising health care resources as the pandemic progresses.”
The most common symptom among children in the study was fever (65 per cent), followed by upper respiratory tract infection (54 per cent), while 25 per cent had pneumonia. Age is known to be a key risk factor for COVID-19 patients, and children have been far less severely affected than adults since the pandemic’s outset.
According to researchers, child deaths from coronavirus is “very low.” | Image source: Getty Images
But the study found a small number of children infected with additional respiratory viruses at the same time as COVID-19, and these were more than three times likely to require intensive care than those with COVID-19 alone.
“This could have important implications for the upcoming winter season, when cold and flu infections will be more common,” says paper author Begona Santiago-Garcia, from Spain’s University Hospital Gregorio.
This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2020 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
Copyright (c) 2020. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
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